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Accreditation Questions and Answers

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1. Q. Who accredited Taft Law School?
A. We are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). This became effective June 7, 2003. On June 14, 2013 the Commission voted to extend the accreditation until 2018. The five-year extension is the maximum permissible under DETC standard.

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2. Q. What is the DETC?
A. The DETC is an educational association located in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1926, it has been the standard setting agency for distance education institutions. The Accrediting Commission of the DETC is listed by the United States Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. The Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies that the Secretary determines to be reliable authorities as to the quality of education provided by the institutions of higher education. An agency seeking recognition by the Secretary must meet the Secretary's procedures and criteria for the recognition of accrediting agencies. First recognized by the Department of Education in 1959, the DETC was most recently reviewed in 2006 as part of the normal evaluation process.

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3. Q. If accreditation is so important, why did it take you over 20 years to apply?
A. Until the DETC extended the scope of its accrediting authority to include first professional (Juris Doctor) degrees, Taft was ineligible to apply for accreditation from any Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. The Department of Education approved DETCís extended scope in 2002.

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4. Q. What are the benefits of accreditation to a student or graduate?
A. It can provide many benefits, a few of which are noted below. Accreditation:

  • provides a reliable indicator of institution quality for counselors, employers, educators, governmental officials, and the public;
  • is an expression of confidence in the educational program, the policies, and the procedures of the institution by its peers;
  • is an external source of stimulation to improve services, programs, and staff through periodic self-studies and evaluations by an outside agency;
  • is an assurance of high standards and educational quality through the institutionís adherence to established criteria, policies, and standards;
  • brings the institution recognition through the extension of special status by several states under their legislation and regulations, as well as recognition given by federal, state, and local agencies in referring students to accredited institutions;
  • allows students to more easily qualify for tuition reimbursement under certain state, industry, corporate, or union-sponsored tuition assistance plans requiring enrollment in an accredited school; and
  • provides unique professional development opportunities for the institutionís staff members to participate in professional development programs and to serve on accrediting examining committees visiting other institutions.

An excellent article by Sally Welch, Assistant Director of the Distance Education and Training Council, on the benefits of accreditation to students can be read HERE.

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5. Q. Iím a current law student. Will the accreditation allow me to take the bar examination in states other than California?
A. Unfortunately, no. Outside of California, qualification to sit for the Bar Examinations is generally based on graduation from an institution approved by the American Bar Association. The ABA has chosen not to review its ban on approving distance education courses which goes back to the 1950ís. In our opinion, ABA approved schools realize if they allow distance education to expand nationally they will not be able to continue to justify the tuition rates for Juris Doctor programs which average in excess of $80,000 nor the faculty salaries which often exceed $100,000 per year. In addition, most state bar associations are controlled by attorneys who desire to limit the number of attorneys in their state. Attorney admittance to bars outside of California is more of a political issue relating to limiting competition rather than any concern for consumer protection. Donít expect any change in these rules in the foreseeable future.

However, even under current rules, California attorneys who have practiced in California for a certain period of time become eligible to sit for the Bar examination in many states even without graduation from an ABA approved law school. California attorneys can also qualify to sit for the Wisconsin Bar examination immediately upon being admitted in California.

Some Taft law graduates have been admitted to and graduated from Master of Laws (LL.M.) programs at law schools approved by the American Bar Association. Accreditation will make this process easier. Graduation from such programs may qualify individuals to sit for the bar examination in a majority of states.

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6. Q. Does the accreditation apply to just the Juris Doctor Program?
A. No, all programs offered by the University fall under the accreditation. From a technical standpoint, the DETC accredits institutions, not individual courses or programs.

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7. Q. If new programs are developed, will they be accredited?
A. Yes. A requirement of being accredited by DETC is that we must submit any new programs, and substantive changes to existing programs to DETC for approval before they can be offered. This is your assurance that a third party has reviewed the programs we offer and found that they meet accreditation standards.

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